Running is one of the best ways to increase cardiovascular health and assist with weight loss. Whether you run for a sport, such as soccer or track events, for distance, or are just a recreational runner, you can improve your ability in many ways. One of the best ways to increase your running capacity is by working at a level greater than you are accustomed to with explosive training. Dr. Philo Saunders tested trained runners and found that by adding explosive intervals into their workouts, they increased running economy by 4 percent. These difficult drills push you beyond your normal limits.
Perform dynamic drills as a warm-up. Use a 10-yard space and do walking lunges from one end to the other, focusing long strides to stretch the hip flexors and activate the glutes. Do the same with side lunges, to stretch the adductors and groin. Do high-knee and butt-kicker runs to stretch and prepare glutes and quads. Finally, do long-stride runs, focusing on the length of the stride.
According to Dr. Len Kravitz of the University of New Mexico, interval training is beneficial because it overloads the heart beyond what is achieved through a single bout of continuous exercise. This cyclical overload results in greater cardiovascular gains, such as a higher VO2 max, allowing you to run harder and faster than with continuous training alone. Start adding varieties of 100-, 200- and 400-yard sprints into your workouts, with only 30 to 60 seconds of rest in between. Start with one day per week and gradually progress to two or three days. Increase the number of repetitions and decrease your rest time.
Resisted running involves pulling a sled, using a parachute and running with an elastic bungee or weighted vest. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research examined the effects of resisted running on female soccer players. The results show that this type of training significantly increases acceleration and speed of the 40-yard dash. This is a difficult drill and can put a strain on your lower body, so start with only one day per week, even if you are a seasoned runner.
Uphill and Downhill Running
Uphill running is a type of resistance running, but you can incorporate other modalities into it, such as using a vest or performing intervals. Uphill running increases the concentric strength of the quads and glutes, and it challenges the cardiovascular system. Downhill running directly relates to acceleration and deceleration, and eccentrically works the quads and hamstrings, as well as increasing stride length. If you mainly run outdoors, this type of training is ideal for preparing for all types of terrains.
Riana Rohmann has been working for the Marine Corps doing physical training and writing fitness articles since 2008. She holds personal trainer and advanced health and fitness specialist certifications from the American Council on Exercise and a Bachelor of Science in kinesiology and exercise physiology from California State University-San Marcos.